AA President Edmund King has said that the results of an appeal to cyclists and motorists by The Times to identify Britain’s most hazardous junctions demonstrate that cycllists believe that much of the country’s road network is “not fit for purpose.” The findings have been published on the same day that the newspaper’s editor appears alongside government ministers to give evidence to a committee of MPs on cycle safety.
Some 10,000 people responded to the newspaper’s invitation to use an interactive map to highlight dangerous roundabouts, junctions and other sections of road as part of its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign, launched in February.
The Elephant & Castle gyratory system in South London – described late last year by Mayor Boris Johnson as “perfectly negotiable” by cyclists – emerged as the location flagged up by most people on The Times’ interactive map.
The newspaper says that “4,010 junctions, 2,778 stretches of badly designed road, 1,453 poorly built cycle lanes and 1,360 roads afflicted by dangerous pot holes” were highlighted by people who use them.
Seven of the most complained about locations were in London, with King’s Cross/York Way, site of the death of cyclist Deep Lee last year, in second place.
However, junctions and roads across the UK in cities including in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast were also regularly nominated, says The Times.
It added that suggestions to improve them included allowing cyclists to benefit from a head start at traffic lights, one of the changes Transport for London is proposing at the Bow Roundabout, site of the death of two cyclists last autumn.
Commenting on the results, AA President Mr King, himself a cyclist, said: “It would be fair to say from these findings from 10,000 people that in many cyclists’ view the roads are not fit for purpose.
“Many of the things highlighted in the survey show that particularly on major roads in and around urban areas we need a fundamental review of road design and junction layout,” he added.
Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator at national cyclists’ organisation CTC, said: “It’s time for the Government to get to work on a national cycling action plan with enough funding to begin to rectify some of these appalling places for cycling.”
Martin Gibbs, British Cycling’s policy and legal affairs director, added: “This is valuable data that the Department for Transport should use immediately to start remedial works. We need a total shift in policy. We should never have got into this situation and the government must now commit to putting cycle safety into road and junction designs before they are built.
“This is a dramatic policy failure and transport ministers should be highly uncomfortable that a national newspaper is leading this process.”
Today, Times editor James Harding will join broadcaster Jon Snow, who is also President of CTC, and transport ministers Norman Baker and Mike Penning, in giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee.
Today’s session forms the conclusion of the oral evidence phase of the committee’s inquiry into the government’s road safety strategy, and focuses specifically on cycling.
In an unusual step, and one perhaps reflecting the way that the issue of cycling has moved up the political agenda in recent months, the committee had last week invited members of the public to submit via Twitter questions that could be put to ministers today.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.